Urgeschichte und Naturwissenschaftliche Archäologie

Dr. Maria A. Spyrou

Postdoctoral Researcher

Hölderlinstraße 12, 72074 Tübingen, Germany
maria.spyrou@ ifu.uni-tuebingen.de

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Research Interests

I am a postdoctoral researcher broadly interested in the evolution and history of infectious diseases as well as on how past epidemics/pandemics have shaped human societies. I approach these topics through genetics, and specifically through the investigation of pathogen DNA traces in ancient human remains as well as through the reconstruction and evolutionary analysis of whole ancient pathogen genomes from various archaeological contexts. Among a number of topics, my work has largely focused on tracing the history of the plague pathogen, Yersinia pestis, from as far back as the Late Neolithic and Bronze Age periods, as well as from its infamous historical eruptions during the First and Second Plague Pandemics.

Keywords: Ancient DNA, ancient pathogen genomics, paleopathology


PhD Archaeological Sciences, Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen & Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena

MSc Medical Microbiology, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine 

BSc Biomedical Sciences, University of Southampton 

Selected Publications

  • Spyrou, M. A., Musralina, L., Gnecchi Ruscone, G. A., Kocher, A., Borbone, P. G., Khartanovich, V. I., ... & Krause, J. (2022). The source of the Black Death in fourteenth-century central Eurasia. Nature, 606(7915), 718-724.
  • Andrades Valtueña, A., Neumann, G. U., Spyrou, M. A., Musralina, L., Aron, F., Beisenov, A., ... & Herbig, A. (2022). Stone Age Yersinia pestis genomes shed light on the early evolution, diversity, and ecology of plague. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 119(17), e2116722119.
  • Kocher, A., Papac, L., Barquera, R., Key, F. M., Spyrou, M. A., Hübler, R., ... & Kühnert, D. (2021). Ten millennia of hepatitis B virus evolution. Science, 374(6564), 182-188.
  • Spyrou, M. A., Bos, K. I., Herbig, A. and Krause, J. (2019) 'Ancient pathogen genomics as an emerging tool for infectious disease research', Nature Rev Genet, pp. 1. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41576-019-0119-1
  • Spyrou, M. A.*, Keller, M.*, Tukhbatova, R. I., et al. (2019) 'Phylogeography of the second plague pandemic revealed through analysis of historical Yersinia pestis genomes', Nature communications, 10(1), pp. 1-13. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-12154-0
  • Keller, M.*, Spyrou, M. A.*, Scheib, C. I., Neumann, G. U., Kröpelin, A., Haas-Gebhard, B., Päffgeng, B., Haberstroh, J., Ribera i Lacomba, A., Raynaud, C., Cessford, C., Durand, R., Stadler, P., Nägele, K., Bates, J. S., Trautmann, B., Inskip, S., Peters, J., Robb, J. E., Kivisild, T., Castex, D., McCormick, M., Bos, K. I., Harbeck, M., Herbig, A. and Krause, J. (2019) 'Ancient Yersinia pestis genomes from across Western Europe reveal early diversification during the First Pandemic (541-750 CE)', Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1820447116
  • Spyrou, M. A., Tukhbatova, R. I., Wang, C. C., et al. (2018). Analysis of 3800-year-old Yersinia pestis genomes suggests Bronze Age origin for bubonic plague. Nature Communications, 9(1), 1-10. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-018-04550-9
  • Spyrou, M. A., Tukhbatova, R. I., Feldman, et al. (2016) 'Historical Y. pestis genomes reveal the European Black Death as the source of ancient and modern plague pandemics', Cell Host Microbe, 19(6), pp. 874-881. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chom.2016.05.012

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Teaching Credits

PAL05: Introduction to Evolutionary Theory
ASHE-3e Introduction to Palaeogenetics (V+S)